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Embracing Tradition: Sorriso’s New Chef de Cuisine Brings Italian Flair

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THE WOODLANDS, TX – Sorriso, an upscale, modern Italian eatery overlooking The Woodlands’ Waterway Square and located on the ground floor of The Westin at The Woodlands, has appointed highly regarded culinary veteran Jonathan Lestingi to the role of chef de cuisine.

Jonathan Lestingi Chef at Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen The Woodlands
Jonathan Lestingi. Photo courtesy of Sorriso.

Bringing a rich heritage deeply rooted in Italian culture to his new position, Lestingi was previously chef de cuisine at Back Table Kitchen & Bar, a standalone, waterfront restaurant on the grounds of nearby The Woodlands Resort, also under The Woodlands Hotels umbrella.

Sorriso, which translates to smile in Italian, was unveiled in early 2019 in tandem with its glam, upstairs bar and lounge counterpart, Como Social Club. It has since gone on to earn numerous accolades including Wine Spectator’s annual awards for three years in a row.

Lestingi brings national experience to Sorriso, including a chef de partie position under Patrick O’Connell at famed The Inn at Little Washington, the only 3 Star Michelin restaurant in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and the longest-tenured Forbes 5 Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant in the world.




Prior to relocating to Houston with The Woodlands Hotels in 2021, he was based in New Orleans for a decade, holding roles at destination dining spots such as Brennan’s, Red Fish Grill, and Stella, including the sous chef position at James Beard Award-winning Willa Jean. Lestingi was also the executive chef and co-owner of well-received solo venture Oxalis – a stylish gastropub and whiskey bar in the hip Bywater neighborhood – and its Magazine Street predecessor, La Fin du Monde. Additionally, while earning his degree in Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, Lestingi had an internship under consulting chef Tom Colicchio at The Beach Club at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

“I am so excited to infuse my Italian heritage and culinary background into the vibrant menu of Sorriso,” said Lestingi. “It’s a beautiful backdrop to showcase the flavors and traditions that shaped my youth and culinary journey, and I can’t wait to share them with our loyal patrons and newcomers alike.”

Under Lestingi’s stewardship, authenticity will be paramount and be reflected in a variety of ways. Going forward, all pastas will be made in house, and some will be infused with bottarga, a dried press roe. Colatura di alici, an anchovy-based fish sauce originating from the village of Cetara, Campania, will be used in a variety of seafood dishes. He also plans to weave a thread of nostalgia into Sorriso by introducing his childhood Sunday dinner tradition. The menu will spotlight house made garlic bread and a signature pasta featuring a robust red sauce made from a base of veal neck bones along with a blend of wine and spices.




Lestingi plans to make his mark on the beverage offerings with Italian-inspired cocktails and a seasonal Cello program, and diners can look forward to heightened synergy with Como for an entire evening of fun.

Sorriso is open for breakfast daily from 6:30 – 11:00am with lunch served daily from 11:30am until 2:00pm. Happy hour is available daily from 4:00 – 6:00pm. Dinner is served daily from 5:00 – 10:00pm. For more information and reservations, please call 832.839.5436 or visit